Purple Flowers

This is for you if you are in despair.

This is for you if you are in despair.

I know how you feel.

I have been you; terrified to leave the house, feeling I had no control over my own body.

I have felt my brain was alien and unpredictable and I could no longer rely on it to tell me the truth.

I know what it is like to wake in the night and be consumed with fear, able to hear my blood pumping around my body, the sound loud in my ears.

I have wanted to hide, and felt shame. I have not known who I was or how to go on. I have wanted to disappear, in every way possible because carrying on felt too hard, too difficult, too painful, too unpredictable.

I know how you feel.

I know the despair that rises up to meet you in the morning and settles on you like a fog as you finally manage to get to sleep.

And I want to tell you. Don’t give up. Please.

It is possible to get better.

I know because I have.

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It has been a complicated route to this new peace, and along the way there have been delays, false starts and wrong turnings.

I am not going to pretend to you it has been easy.

Because you already know that isn’t true.

I know how hard you are working, and how you long to feel differently. I know you wish it was as easy as ‘snapping out of it’, or ‘pulling yourself together’.

If only, hey?

My path to peace has involved every aspect of my being. I could not just treat the chemical imbalance with drugs (which I have) without looking at the environmental aspects of my life. There would be no point going to therapy to talk through and understand the mindsets and patterns of behaviour that have made me ill (which I have) without thinking about my home life and the kind of community (open, vulnerable, supportive) I want to be a part of.

We are not just flesh and blood, we are also spirit and soul. We are not just hormones and synapses, we are also heart and home. And we need to attend to our whole self.

This takes time.

It is okay for it to take time.

Let me encourage you. As you move, step by step, hour by hour, to a greater understanding, as you continue to walk forwards, things will get easier.

If you would have told me a five years ago (or even one year ago) I would be feeling as I do now, with more energy and peace and hope, I would have struggled to believe you because I felt so bad for so long. I know the despair, I know how all encompassing it can feel. But please, hear me, you can get better.

Somewhere in the mix of anti-depressants and therapeutic practices, long walks at the river and lots of rest, I have found myself again.

And this me I have discovered is at peace. I know who I am and what I should be doing with my time. I am not constantly confused or distracted by the other, well-meaning, voices who have good suggestions. I do not feel the need to appease everyone else, I have found good boundaries that keep me safe and enable me to live well. I can enjoy time with friends and adventures and hard work. And I know when to get an early night, cut back on the caffeine and spend time in my garden.

I trust myself to know what I need to remain well.

Mostly.

And I have a husband and friends who will give me the nod if I am filling my life too full and be brave enough to lovingly suggest I might need to slow down, if they can see stress building.

It is not just me who has been learning. We learn best together.

And the unexpected, particularly amazing, thing about recovery (because, like an addict I know this is a life long journey into health I am walking, not a quick fix) is the gifts that you find along the way. Not gifts for yourself – feeling well is good enough – but gifts for others.

Your story, your experience, might be exactly what someone else needs to hear. We need each other because this is a complicated beast we are fighting and we all bring something unique to the battle.

Our stories are our weapons, gifts that slay despair.

But today, for now, don’t worry about fighting, and don’t worry about trying to make yourself better. Don’t strive, that won’t help.

Let my story start to fight your despair

And your part today: keep putting one foot in front of the other and know you are not alone. Don’t give up, hear the truth – it is possible to get better.

Take it from one who knows.

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11 Comments
  • Tess
    Posted at 15:40h, 10 October Reply

    Thank you so much, whoever you are, for your story. I am struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings, and have been for the past few years. The problem is, I feel ‘trapped’ because the problem is between me and my teenage daughter! I have wrestled with guilt, anger, frustration, sadness, grief (the loss of the relationship I had hoped for and dreamed I would have with my only child) for the past 10yrs or so; have ‘contracted’ CFS on the way/4yrs ago and, this year, lost my loved job on ill-health grounds. Also, adjusting and grieving for the ‘loss’ of my dear old Mum, who is 88yrs old and has vascular dementia. My Spiritual Journey feels like an extremely long and hard one, in this life-time, and the lessons to learn go right to the core of my being/my heart and soul. The only reasons I haven’t given up (and, believe me, I’ve been close!) are these: – 1) I could not hurt my husband, child and wider family by departing this mortal coil earlier than God has intended 2) I have been sustained by the Love of my husband, my friends and my wider family – when the going has got tough, they have been there for me, every time and in every way 3) I know that nothing (whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’) lasts forever and I trust in the Universe to deliver me, stronger and more whole, at the end of this awful experience 4) I am learning to soften my heart; let go of ego and trust in my intuition, inner strength and light to guide me through this. It is far from easy, but I have learnt in the past 18months or so where my despair/depression/sadness/anger and sense of feeling overwhelmed come from, so I am learning to recognise this; thank them/the feelings for showing me the way; let them go and know that We are All on the Same Side/We are All Successes/Worthy/Good/Light inside. I have also learnt – and probably the most important lesson for me – that we are here to Heal Ourselves. We are not here for any other purpose, and we Cannot Heal Others – Only Our Selves. I Wish All who read this Love & Light. X

    • ElliJohnson
      Posted at 11:34h, 13 October Reply

      Thanks Tess. It sounds like you have been/ are in a very difficult situation. Sending you lots of love and prayers.

  • Linda Stoll
    Posted at 15:57h, 10 October Reply

    Hello there! I came upon your blog somehow last week and have appreciated the story you’ve shared. I have been to some of those scary, depleted places you’ve written so eloquently about, and also have sat with many women who’ve been there, done that in my role as a pastoral counselor.

    So grateful for God’s steady presence, His healing hand, His ability to restore the years the locust have eaten {Joel 2}, allowing us the grace to authentically walk the path with other sisters because we know what it’s like.

  • Ally
    Posted at 17:17h, 13 October Reply

    Thing is it may get better, but with Bipolar disorder, it’s just to get sick all over again. I find other than in mental health care, people eventually run out of patience or see you as permanently needy. This includes Christians.

  • Carol
    Posted at 13:00h, 29 June Reply

    I know this girl well. I was her as well. The crumbling came much the same way as did to you. I am forever grateful. Thanks for writing. Ive been reading many of your blogs with sweetness

    • ElliJohnson
      Posted at 14:00h, 29 June Reply

      Thanks Carol xx

  • Patti Marshall
    Posted at 16:19h, 25 September Reply

    This is beautiful, Ellie. I love this: We are not just flesh and blood, we are also spirit and soul. We are not just hormones and synapses, we are also heart and home. And we need to attend to our whole self.” So true! Keep writing and encouraging.

    • ElliJohnson
      Posted at 17:56h, 25 September Reply

      Thanks Patti x

  • Pingback:This is for you if you are in despair - I am 1 in 4
    Posted at 16:55h, 20 December Reply

    […] with permission, originally published here. Elli at The Hippo Chronicles offers an e-mail series on 60 second meditation for when you are […]

  • Brittany Dunphy
    Posted at 21:17h, 02 April Reply

    This was exactly what I needed right now. Thank you so much. This provided a much needed light in the darkness.

  • Farren
    Posted at 15:55h, 30 May Reply

    Thankyou for this post!

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